Gabrielle Giffords survived, recovered, and returned to public life after being badly wounded by an assassination attempt on January 8, 2011. During this extended ordeal, the Arizona representative mobilized lyric, dramatic, and oratorical resources into a singular, untimely rhetoric. I contend that she invoked the cultural resources of Polyhymnia—a classical figure reminding us of the ingenious, contingent resourcefulness among the symbolic arts—to recover her public agency in a time of deep incivility and public violence. In this essay, I find Giffords’s rhetoric, including her appearances, speeches, interviews, testimony, and editorials from 2011 through 2013, to comprise acts of civil courage.

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